Streamlining improves administrative efficiency, accountability and security.

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City of Rochester Police Department

Photo by Communications Bureau, City of Rochester, NY

Police Department Transforms Administration Tasks with ECM

With some 870 officers and support staff and a budget of around $90 million, running the Rochester Police Department (RPD) is a big job. Mayor Lovely Warren has made it a priority to make that job easier by investing resources in the implementation of enterprise content management (ECM) solutions for five clerical processes. Electronic forms and automated routing and recordkeeping now streamline these tasks across the department, improving efficiency, accountability and security.

Digitizing The Nitty-Gritty Of Behind-The-Scenes Police Business

Following the City’s kudos-winning debut of a FOIL Request Processing solution based on its new Laserfiche system, Rochester’s IT Department reached out to General Code for the next phase of an ECM initiative. The RPD identified the following five business processes for transformation:

  • Confidential Issues, including processing labor grievances and release time records.
  • Grant Management, proceeding from request, development and application through execution tracking.
  • Internal Audits, which manages the execution and recording of more than 80 inspections over the course of a year.
  • Internal Policy Management, starting with a change request and ending by recording each officer’s review of new General Orders.
  • Training Request Management, which moves submissions through a dynamic approval process, collecting financial and personnel data that can change on the path to close.

Today each of these processes starts with a Laserfiche form. After the first person completes his or her portion of the form and clicks “Submit,” the ECM system notifies the next person in the processing chain of an action required. That person opens the form to add information, review and approve or check a box flagging the activity for review by the City Attorney or Grants Manager before again clicking “Submit” to send the request or case on its way. And so on until the process is complete.

CIO’s Vision Ramps Up Citywide ECM

These business process automations marked the fourth phase of a wider Laserfiche ECM implementation project funded by a New York State government records management improvement grant. As City CIO Lisa Bobo remarked to an audience of town clerks, “I was determined to implement content management across our enterprise with one solution for the entire City of Rochester. We had received multiple requests for content management solutions. The Police Department was among the customers who were most vocal about their need.”

City IT project manager Harriet Fisher worked closely with the General Code solutions team and RPDs representatives. She observed, “Our development model involves the business user. The goal is change management as opposed to ‘Here’s what IT gave us.’ So customers were in the room when we determined the functional requirements documents.” These became the basis of the statements of work General Code used to map out the Laserfiche solutions. As development proceeded “We had what I call ‘conference room pilots’ in which the business users test-drove the prototypes,” said Fisher. These sessions provided immediate feedback, enabling General Code optimize the solutions for real-world use.

Tighter Business Process Management Improves Accuracy and Turnaround Times

While each solution’s forms, folders and flow are unique to its end users’ needs, the revamped processes share important ECM benefits.

  • Consistent Data Capture. The use of online forms assures that users enter the key content required to move a task forward without subsequent research or callbacks for missing information.
  • Ease of Use. “Radio button” choices and dropdown menus on the forms limit the need for busy people to remember and keystroke the proper options.
  • Intelligent Updating. Solutions can query the RPD’s personnel database for current roles and responsibilities to automatically update menu options and task assignment and routing.
  • Standardization. Laserfiche enforces sequential naming of cases and requests and builds folders and subfolders accordingly.
  • Content Access. Forms-based data capture enables users to review organized reports instead of sifting through file folders for essential information. Key word searches enable fast research for prior occurrences across a given activity such as grievance filings.
  • File Integrity and Security. All forms, attachments and tracking data are held in case-specific Laserfiche folders. No physical assets move so nothing can be misplaced or lost. User-level access privileges assure privacy. And post-process records retention is built-in.
  • Automatic Task Management. Laserfiche handles notifications and reminders and can provide deadline alerts to process managers. The Internal Audit application keeps track of scheduling and generates new tasks as periodic inspections come due.

These features eliminate duplication of effort and rework to help keep process outcomes like decisions and policy updates moving through the RPD system without delay.

Innovations Streamline, Add Convenience

According to Crista Deniz, General Code’s project manager, “Our team found some new ways to make life easier for users.”

  • “We embedded an encrypted URL (GUID) in General Order email notifications. When an officer clicks on the link that opens the order, Laserfiche records that action. The GUID ensures the officer is who she says she is,” explained Deniz. “By verifying policy notifications, the City has a legal leg to stand on if there’s a related incident or dispute.”
  • “We created ‘Next-in-Command-Chain’ routing to ensure that the correct people sign off on inspections,” said Deniz “It’s flexible to deal with variations in signoffs on different audits.”
  • “Grant Management app users can open MS Office report templates directly in the Grant file,” Deniz said. “If there’s an inquiry, current expense spreadsheets and support documents are right at hand.”
  • “Similarly, the Training Request app supports in-process updates of approvals and related financial information,” said Deniz. “If a supervisor changes a request, the expense totals are updated immediately.”
  • “The Training Request form is role sensitive. It opens to the task tab that’s relevant to you,” said Deniz. “Instead of clicking through screens, you immediately see what you need to do.”

Transformed Processes = Automatic Improvements

Trading in cumbersome manual processes for Laserfiche solutions enables the RPD’s Administrative Bureau to save time and labor, eliminate the costs of printing and filing paper documents and avoid routing pitfalls like untrackable email forwards. Over in the Operations Bureau, paperwork reduction helps patrol officers focus on public safety. And privacy and confidentiality are secured across the department.

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